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Songwriting Survey
Who are your favorite local songwriters & why?


Paul Epstein
A songwriter/elementary teacher from Charleston, WV:folk,country,introspective, writes:
Aside from myself, (every songwriter should like his/her own songs, right?) I like Ron Sowell and Julie Adams, both of whom you can hear on Mountain Stage, a production of West Virginia Public Radio, though they rarely let Ron do his own songs. I like Ron's songs, usually, because he works so hard on them. He is trying to pitch them in Nashville, but he doesn't dummy down--though since he's on the country track, they tend to be a bit more uplifting and morally defensible than I prefer. Julie doesn't write that much, but what she does write really swings. Oh, I almost forgot Colleen Anderson, my favorite favorite local songwriter. She has a tape out, though it's independent and undistributed. She's a wonderful poet, and her songs are just plain beautiful. She's less a musician, but has a nice voice. nuff said.
Jeffrey Hitchin
A songwriter from Seattle, Washington, writes:
Andrew Ratshin, who writes some of the best lyrics I've ever heard. Also, Greg Scott, who wrote one of my favorite songs, "Moonlight Ain't No Use to Me," which is a slow jazz number, poignant, and yet achy.
Michael Harrison
An amateur songwriter from Canada's East Coast, writes:
Scott Phillips - Easily identifiable lyrics, simple yet elegant tunes. You can nod your head to most of his songs thinking "been there, done that"!
Rankin Family - They do a lot to capture the spirit and history of the area while presenting it in a away that is both modern and richly flavored. Ther are to contemporary music as Camden Yards is to Major League Ball Parks!
Alan
A college student by day, songwriter/guitarist the rest of the time, writes:
My all time favorite has to be Syd Barrett, he packs fantasy into his lyrics like no other, on the other side of the moon, there is Roger Waters, whom you can ignore because his songs are very intimate and powerful... I also like Tom Petty for being simplistic, Dave Matthews is also great because he has the luxury of being wordy... For plain ol' fun songs, the Hunter/Garcia songwriting team couldn't be beat... my favorite local songwritwer is definitely Nil Lara, he's just great.
Jev
A student taking interest in songwriting... :o), writes:
Matt Champneys of "Blue City Nights" - Lyrics are meaningful, mesh well with the music, great to dance to, appropriate for radio.
Tim Barber
A country music songwriter from Florida in search of ideas and co-writers, writes:
My two favorite songwriters are actually two guys I wrote with when I live in Washington, D.C. and I still write with via the internet.
Ken Salaets is my contemporary man. He is a huge Beatles fan and the songs we have written together, including two cuts, have a twinge of Beatles in them. It gives a unique twist to a country song.
Bob Clay is my traditional man. Playing in a band has gives Bob's and my creations, a unique honky tonk feel. If you want a song to have that Merle or Hank Jr. raspiness to it, Bob's your man.

I write with a lot of other fine songwriters, around the world, but these two are my favorites.


Neil Bennett
A blue-collared, rock-rooted, country boy from Tennessee, writes:
My best friend, Jim Webb, writes from the heart. I really like the soul-searching from John Paul Williams. I was honoured to co-write with the late Lee Anna Long.
Larry Carson
A Songwriter from West Virginia, writes:
In the local West Virginia music scene TODD BURGE is my fav for Songwriter. Todd's cleverly written and sometimes sardonic songs always tell a great story. Todd interestingly straddles other genres Folk/Country and if you catch him live... Punk!. Todd's latest CD 'Tin Since' has been reviewed by Dirty Linen.
Mike Campbell
A singer/songwriter from Alaska, writes:
Me (Mike Campbell) - What can I say, I like what I do.
Robin Hopper - Great voice, superb melodies, heartwarming lyrics.
Lou Nathanson - This guy is a great guitarist and writes witty, humorous songs.
Rob Maguire
A young musican (15/m) from New Brunswick, Canada, who also loves to watch hockey!! :*), writes:
I think Sloan is a great local songwriter as their music is simple, yet complex in the way they present it. They're songs are catchy, and I like they're style, they don't rip off other bands as a lot of bands do nowadays. They're very original, and they're doing a great job.
Bob Clayton
A long-time folky living in the Washington, DC, area, writes:
Tough question. Tom Paxton has moved to my area, but I 'spose he doesn't count as "local". He is the single songwriter I think I pattern myself after the most. His easy manner of making a song personal, universal, new and familiar all at the same time are my ideal. I don't actually listen to local songwriters that much, despite that there are several extremely good ones operating out of the DC area. Tom Prasado-Rao is one. Jennifer Cutting is very good. I remember sharing the stage with Mary Chapin Carpenter in the good ol' days. I suspect the reason I don't remember the names of many of the locals is that a lot of them are not writing songs I would ever want to sing. People who write songs only THEY can or will sing AREN'T songwriters -- they're performers! A songwriter makes something that other people perform. Another reason is that they are writing in the acoustic rock style, not in the traditional-folk style I prefer. It's a matter of taste. I often listen to country stations rather than acoustic-music stations or CDs (there are few acoustic-music stations) because the songs -- words and melodies -- are closer to what I "hear" in my mind when I sit down to write. This diatribe/apologia (which is it? Maybe it's both!) doesn't answer your question, so I'll move on.
Randy Zahara
A songwriter/lyricist from the sunny Okanagan, writes:
I think this is a great question, as it provides an opportunity for us to think about who we respect in our own area, possibly enough to contact and network with. In the Okanagan Valley region of my province there are a lot of song writers, a few are starting to get noticed such as Rachel Matkin, Dave Matkin ,& the Grapes of Wrath. I have talked to Dave Matkin ( Rachels Dad ) and he is interested in establishing a local network of writers who can share ideas, experience, contacts, critiques and promote their music localy. I think that this is an excellent site on the internet as it provides the opportunity to network on a much wider scale. I write lyrics, and the choice of composers localy is fairly limitted, so I am always looking for someone else to share my words with. Thank you for providing this site!
You're very welcome, Randy! Thanks for the kind words. -Jodi  
Bob Walker
A Christian Student Songwriter from near Calgary, Alta, Canada, writes:
I think the Buics are my favorite locals right now. They have a very positive Christian message, yet their sound is very pumped and energetic. In other words, the music should still appeal to a musically minded audience who likes to hear the words.
Jeffrey Bedard
A songwriter from Maine dabbling in rock and ballads, mostly ballads, writes:
My favorite local songwriter is my best friend Rhonda. She and I have formed a songwriting partnership and while she hasn't written a song on her own, her ability to create thoughtful lyrics and interesting melodies has greatly improved how I go about composing. She's the best.
Lee Elliott
Bass/Song dude for Blue Cartoon (Austin,TX.), writes:
Ron Flynt- One of my favorite bands from the early 80's is 20/20. Ron Flynt's songs "Nuclear Boy" and "The Night I Heard A Scream" are at once scary and joyful, which is kind of what it was like living in L.A. on the verge of the 80's. "Stone Cold" from 1995's "Four Day Tornado" has an optimistim that defies it's minor chords. Too cool. Robert Harrison- Songwriter for Cotton Mather. He's got this great Lennon meets Costello vibe. Happy hunting for the "Cotton Is King" CD!
Chris KIlpatrick
lacksmith & writer of my souls own melody, writes:
A young gentleman named Eric Humphreys. He is the head of a band called Holy Roman Empire. His sound is so unique, I have no classification for it. It is kinda like beat poetry except he doesn't rhyme or speak in meter. He just tells stories while the band members each play whatever they feel simultaniously. But, it all works. The description sounds like a train wreck, but they are really entertaining. They have a record contract now, so maybe you wilkl here of them.
Rik Russell
A songwriter from Nashville, writes:
I have two favorite songwriters in the Nashville area. The first is Janis Gill, one half of the duet Sweethearts of the Rodeo. Janis is an exceptional writer, with most of her tunes straight from her personal life and experiences. Whether it's bluegrass, pure hard country, or softer pop stylings, she is consistently my favorite. Check out some of her work on the new Sugar Hill release "Beautiful Lies" in stores now.

Secondly, Matraca Berg has always been another favorite. She had a solo project on RCA back in 1989 called "Lying to the Moon" which was absolutely phenomenal. From "I Got it Bad"......
I can't eat, I can't sleep
I got nubs where my fingernails used to be
And my cat, is gettin' kinda worried 'bout me.

The phone rings, and I pounce
I'm like OJ Simpson jumpin' over the couch.
It ain't you, I'm answerin' breathlessly.

(song written prior to all the OJ hoopla, of course)

Her work is compared to Gail Davies and KT Oslin, but she's in a category of her own. Her latest and greatest is the new Martina McBride single, "Cry On the Shoulder of the Road".


John
A music lover, wannabe songwriter from New York, writes:
I used to live in Florida, and there are a bunch of cool songwriters in the little town of St. Augustine. It's been many years since I've been there, but most of the writers hang out at a place called "The Milltop," which is right in the heart of the tourist area. The best I ever heard was a guy named Don Oja-Dunaway. He plays there all the time, and books the other musicians there, too. He has an eclectic folk/blues style and his writing in nothing short of inspired. I have several of his tapes. Another great writer/singer/songwriter is a guy named David Maguire. Last time I was in Florida someone told me David was now living in New Hampshire and not playing out much. Too bad, because this guy is the absolute best singer/songwriter I've ever seen. His writing is not as intense as Don's (he also does a lot of covers), but his performing chops are unbelievable. And his voice . . . he plays it like a second instrument. I once saw this guy do a guest set in the middle of the afternoon, in a room packed with tourists, and he shut them up. Absolute silence for 20 minutes. I've never seen anything like it.The emotion he puts into his singing is unbelievable. Man, what a voice! If you ever have a chance to see Don Oja-Dunaway or David Maguire on stage, do it.
Charisma Lee
A teenage songwriter (sounds dumb, huh?) from Denver, writes:
Rivers Cuomo (lead guitar and vocals of Weezer) because he really doesn't care whether his songs sound stupid or don't appeal to people...he just writes from his heart, and how he feels.
Beth Amsel
Traveling singer-songwriter from Boulder, CO, writes:
Boulder has a phenomenal group of writers who have by far influenced my writing more than any national writers:
*Maggie Simpson- is one of my favorites. She writes absolutly beautiful songs and sings with a divine voice, plus she's a dynamic 12 string guitar player! Maggie moved out West from Boston five years ago, so some of you may remember her from Naked City or the Old Vienna Kaffehouse.
*Maya Dorn- is front woman for a funk-folk band called Skin. She's truly a poet and plays a mean jazz tinged guitar.
*Geoffry Muirriam- Geoffry writes songs that both break your heart and make you smirk...
"I've always been a serious dude/ resigned to fact that I carry the weight of the world and I eat up my women like food/ it means that I love them my heart caomes when it calls/ the same hormones that make me get hard also makes me go bald.
" You'd have to see him to believe it! You can see him with his band FE, a six piece (and they're nice boys, too!). If any of these folks come to your town, please don't miss them.
Peter Norman
A Chicago area singer/songwriter, writes:
Micheal Stipe (From Athens)- Most genious, inspiring and emotional songwriter of the 20th century. He hits an emotional nerve that most audiences can relate to at an eye level point.
James McCandless He writes insightful lyrics to wonderful and complex melodies and plays them a great deal of skill and emotion. He is also a hell of a nice chap.
Chris Fleece
A songwriter from Columbus Ohio, writes:
All the songwriters who particate in the local N.S.A.I. workshop. The coordinator Terry Keith is exceptional too! I get to listen and enjoy their music without paying for it....that's incredible now days, especially with the quality and uplifting music they provide.
Dawn Watson
A songwriter from NE Georgia, writes:
First and always, my father, Varney Watson. Next to Skip Ewing (my Dad's favorite songwriter), my father is the best there is (I'm only a little biased). Many of his songs are about growing up in this area and have inspired not only me but many other local talents. Next comes Jim Green, a Gospel songwriter who has had the good fortune to have his songs recorded by himself and others. Also among my favorites are Alan Wayne Baker (out of Clarkesville, GA), The Thompson Brothers (well-thought-out originality, which is sadly lacking in too many genres), and the lead singer for the band Straight 'n Narrow out of Knoxville, TN (whose name I don't know, but he's a darn good songwriter anyway).
Todd Norem
A songwriter from Minneapolis, writes:
Dylan Hicks- He's clever, funny, prolific and knows how to write great tunes.
Paul Westerberg- No explanation needed.
Dave Mususi
A songwriter from Minnesota, writes:
I really like the songwriting of Kerry Spragg. He has a way of communicating like no other. I really look up to him musically and he gives me new Ideas for my songwriting. The only thing is,is he has all this talent yet he does nothing about it. That is why I'm trying to get him some exposure out in the world.
Kurt Jones
Music critic for underground magazinr "Vertical", writes:
Micheal Stipe (From Athens)- Most genious, inspiring and emotional songwriter of the 20th century. He hits an emotional nerve that most audiences can relate to at an eye level point.
Vic Davis
A Songwriter from Gainesville, FL, writes:
Chris Sturgeon (Merengue) Because he balances a good level between personal info and obscure info in his songs. Plus he comes up with refreshng melodies.
Bert Hansell
A Folk singer/songwriter(mostly country) ex-limey, writes:
Lynn-Abbey Bartlett whose 'Hugmeister' is one of my favourite songs, sounds kind of like Lionel Bart's Oompahpah.
Eileen Humpel for her version of 'This old Man' which is real bluesy and has a lot of feeling.
Buddy Polhemus
A songwriter from Alabama, 25 years at the task. Prefer writing for my children nowadays, writes:
Locally ALABAMA: Stephen Sedberry, Brad Dorsett, Don Tinsley, Lolly Lee
Locally INDIANA: Kieth Vincent, Addison Ellis, Donna Kari
Nationally:Carol King, Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell, Judy Gold Nancy Griffith, Jackson Brown, Dan Fogelberg, Gordon Lightfoot, Mickey Newberry, David Broza, Harry Chapin, Mac Davis, Don MacLean, Nilson Tod Rundgren
Of the above, most of my form, style and texture have been a conglomeration of everyone but my biggest inspiration has been from Stephen Sedberry and a myriad of other street musicians like him if nothing more than the fact that he writes as though he were having a conversation. The ability to communicate through the medium of music and place words in such a way that they are enjoyed for their sound both in the ear and throat as well as in the mind. He portrays content with each conversation and his random performances are that of a wandering prophet showing up to say the right thing at the right time and having others hear more what they need than what they want. I would encourage many to step outside and listen to those not trying to be noticed or really even understood but contemplated. I think there is scripture in that, the wildman in the wilderness telling us of a better world, a better way, a shift if you will in our paradigms long enough to revisit some Utopia within ourselves each time we hum that melody that won't be forgotten. That is what I enjoy about writing, I think it is bigger than we are and the more anonymous it appears, the greater the allure. How do I know the man talking to me with the tin cup on the sidewalk isn't 427 years old and knows me by name. He may be telling me something that can save my life or help me treat my neighbor a little better. I have to listen, I have to give back as well. So much egocentric "listen to me!!!!" writing out there today. The greats had a way of writing and saying "I listen to you!"

My appreciation also goes out to writer Mark Horton who was a good man preparing for greatness. His interests other than music included God, his beautiful wife Annette, Trains, the American Civil War, and love for his brother. He died saving 5 people from a burning building he was working in. His voice still lives in his music. His wit and empathy for others made his friendship a precious thing. I close many a set with his masterfully written Roulette Wheel:

ROULETTE WHEEL words & music by Mark Horton

My woman's cold as steel
Got a heart like a roulette wheel
Round and round and around she goes
Where she stops even she don't know
But everytime she lands it's a different man
Double zero.......you lose again.

Love roulette
Placed my bet
Took my chances
Paid my debts
Lost my love on a crooked deal
My woman's got a heart like a roulette wheel.

My woman's lean and mean
She's got a soul like a slot machine
Take your love in a crooked game
And she don't even want to know your name
She'll leave ya standin there she don't even care
One joker.........never makes a pair.


Stephanie Harrison
A songwriter from Odessa, TX, writes:
I like a guy here in town named Jerry Dugen, as well as another one named Johnny Blaine. They are both really good, and I am also partial to a group from a neighboring town called Flatland, who does their own, as well as some of my stuff.
Donald Dees
Songwriter/musician from Texas who writes mostly 'generic' love ballads anyone can relate to, writes:
1st: me
2nd: Mike Neal (lives and works around Azle/Ft.Worth, TX)
3rd: Katy Rose Kacey (a female singer I love to work with here)
Gavin Vox
A performer whose time is coming very soon... at least, I hope it is, writes:
Well, I guess that would depend on what you mean by "local". If by said term you mean someone who lives/works/originated in an area near to where I live, I'd be forced to say I have yet to see a great songwriter come out of my area (besides myself and my band, that is). However, if you are referring to someone who operates mainly within their community or area of residence, I'd have to say my favorite is Bono (and indeed, the rest of U2), who has remained in Dublin contrary to the modus operandi of many Irish bands, who seem to prefer life in places like London. Which is understandable, given that the "New Wave" movement they sprung out to represent was centered in England, but Bono and the boys stayed local and remain so to this day, even as they trot the globe with the grandest spectacles of concerts in the history of rock 'n' roll.
Chris Kilpatrick
Wandering through his soul in Indiana, writes:
Who are your favorite *local* songwriters and why?: Holy Roman Empire is a band where the 2 percussionists, the trombone player, the bass player and the guitarist play subdued 'outside' jazz All while the lead 'singer' tells bizarre stories. They are NOT like beat poetry, as the lead singer just tells his stories.
Terry
A songwriter, guitarist, performer from Utah, wrties:
David Wilcox--not really local, but he is multi-talented--great lyrics great tunes, great guitar player. . .imaginative, funny, deep, adventuresome.
Carla Eskelsen--local, folk--she is awesome. . .sees the world from a unique perspective that speaks to her audience.
Sara Hargrave
A Songwriter/singer/guitarist/pianist from IL, writes:
Local Songwriters... hmm... I don't know of many. This may sound concieted, but me, i guess. my music is decent enough and it has some feeling without going to the Smashing Pumpkins depressing area. I would compare my work somewhat to the Beatles because they are my inspiration. (I like other bands too.) Another would be Matt Holt, because his music is unique and it makes me laugh, while still posessing that certain something... I don't know... Sara Allen... The words are SO good... It's poetic, like John Lennon's "Across the universe", yet it doesn't sound "Beatle-ish" It's a style all her own. The rythym sounds sort of like a Pearl Jam song while the music sounds like Oasis.
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